Picasso Unbound: The Artists Secret Romance
More than a decade ago, I began going through those relics in an attempt to learn more about my grandparents. I visited museum archives around the world, from the Picasso Museum in Paris to MoMA in New York, but the greatest treasures I discovered belonged to my own family members: from Picasso’s passionate letters to my late grandmother to snapshots of her taken during their holidays on the Riviera. As my research progressed, it became clear to me that every year of Picasso’s life was filled with brilliance – but there is one that stands out above all others in terms of his creativity: 1932, his annus mirabilis. Tate Modern’s landmark exhibition Picasso 1932: Love, Fame and Tragedy celebrates that year of wonders – 365 days in which he painted some of his greatest masterpieces, the majority of which were inspired by my grandmother. Picasso once claimed that painting was his form of keeping a diary – and for those who can read them, his canvases from this period tell a great love story.
As a child, there was a portrait in our family home in Paris that I always loved. Today, it’s known as Maya with Doll – but to me it was just a portrait of my mother, albeit a remarkable one. “Your grandfather was a painter,” she would say, whenever the subject of the canvas, one of many that hung around the house, came up in discussion. It was only when I began school, and whispers about my heritage started to follow me, that I realised what an understatement that was. My grandfather was far more than a painter. He was the defining figure of 20th-century art – and, as I would learn later from years of academic study, a true genius. It was a revelation that would shape the course of my life in many ways. When Picasso died – in 1973, the year before I was born – he left behind 45,000 works, not to mention personal objects and correspondence.